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Re-opening the American mind

Twenty-five years on, a re-read of Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind reveals just how wrong liberals were to hate it, and how wrong conservatives were to claim it as their ideological bible.

Read my review, in the spiked review of books, here.

4 Responses to “Re-opening the American mind” Leave a reply ›

  • An excellent, thoughtful review, Sean. I haven't had time to write about it, but the perspective you gave to this book presented some valuable insights.

  • In your review of Bloom's "CLosing" you point out its extraordinary publishing success. At the time, however, various commentators pointed out correctly that it was the best-seller that few people actually read. The structure of the book, with its opening harangue, attracted most of the attention, but the meat of the book went mostly unread. The book was the perfect cocktail party, title-dropping, opening conversation piece. In academe, where I lived and worked, the book was seen as a welcome defense of liberal arts and Reagan-era decline and seen as support for Carter's malaise speech. And now, what would Bloom say about a world broken up into, OMG, 140 characters or less?

  • Richard - Great points. There's a story that Michael Kinsley left notes in copies of The Closing in a Washington DC bookstore, offering to pay $5 and leaving his phone number. No one called. Thanks, Sean

  • Bloom was no arch-conservative or even much of a mainstream conservative. He was an 'accidental' conservative who found himself on the 'right' because the kind of liberalism he embraced had been sidelined by the new politically correct leftism that took over campuses beginning in the 1960s.
    So, he wasn't so much pro-conservative as anti-leftist, and that was sufficient for him to be labeled as an 'arch reactionary' by the left that tolerates no dissent against its agenda. Why did the Right take to him? Due to the paucity of conservative voices in the academia, conservatives will embrace anyone who is even faintly 'conservative'. Politics is relative in this sense. Khrushchev was no democrat but he seemed 'liberal' compared to Stalin. Deng was an autocrat but seemed like a 'moderate' compared to Mao.

    Anyway, I hope Bloom is not being defended simply because he was gay. I mean who cares if he was into fecal penetration? What I liked about him is he kept his sexual peccadilloes to himself. As an intellectual, his pride was based on his academism, not on his sexual lifestyle. His sexuality was his private matter, and he kept it that way. But the radical gay agenda would have us believe that some people are wonderful simply because they indulge in fecal penetrative 'sex'. That is foul. It's like saying a person is great because he or she gives blowjobs. I'm so sick of gays demanding respect simply because... they are gay!! I mean where's the pride in a guy sticking his sexual organ into the defecation-hole of another man? A person who is gay can achieve things worthy of pride in science and arts or whatever, but where is the pride simply in being gay?
    What are we to have next? Incest pride and incest marriage? I mean let's be wary of incestophobia, right?

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